WASHINGTON – A Senate Republican leading efforts to reach a compromise on infrastructure legislation proposed a spending increase of $ 50 billion from the last Republican offer, a step that President Biden said failed to do what was necessary to reach an agreement.
The new offer, the details of which were not yet clear, came during a phone call Friday afternoon between Biden and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R., W.Va.), who leads a group of Senate Republicans working to find common ground with the White House.
In response to Ms. Capito’s offer, the White House said: “The President expressed appreciation for her efforts and goodwill, but also indicated that the current offer did not meet its objectives of growing the economy, dealing with the crisis. climate change and create new jobs. . “
Ms. Capito and the group of Senate Republicans involved in the negotiations unveiled a plan last week to spend $ 928 billion over eight years to upgrade roads, bridges, railroads, and transit systems, but only around $ 257 billion of that proposal is above federal projections. spending if current programs continue, according to Republicans. Friday’s offer to add $ 50 billion brings the Republican proposal to $ 307 billion in new spending.
The president and Ms. Capito plan to speak again on Monday, and Biden said he would reach out to other lawmakers from both parties as he sought a compromise on the infrastructure package. After the call ended Friday afternoon, a spokeswoman for Ms. Capito said the senator and the president discussed the parties’ proposals.
Earlier this week, Biden proposed a smaller package of $ 1 trillion in new spending and alternative ways to pay for the measure. But the Biden administration and Senate Republicans remain at odds on issues central to the negotiations, including the size and scope of the bill and how to pay for it.
The White House said Biden also spoke Friday afternoon with House Infrastructure and Transportation Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D., Oregon), who is working on a highway reauthorization bill.
Biden faces pressure from members of his own party as negotiations progress, moderates urging him to find a compromise with Republicans, and progressives pressing him to use a budget maneuver to pass laws without the support of the Republican Party.
Some Liberal Democrats in the House of Representatives said they were concerned that Biden is making concessions they consider too great.
“If what we’ve read is true, it would be very difficult for me to vote in favor of this bill – $ 2 trillion was already the compromise,” Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D., NY) said Thursday. “President Biden cannot expect us to vote on an infrastructure deal dictated by the Republican Party.”
But centrists, including Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), have pressured Biden to continue efforts to reach a bipartisan agreement and have voiced their reluctance to move forward without the support of the Republican Party.
“I don’t think we should. I really don’t, ”Mr. Manchin told NBC News on Thursday. “We need to be bipartisan.”
During a Wednesday White House meeting with Ms. Capito, Biden said he wants $ 1 trillion in new spending on the package, down from his previous offer of $ 1.7 trillion. He also proposed several options to pay for the expense that would not raise the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%, as previously proposed. Republicans have called any effort to raise the corporate tax rate or undo the Republicans’ 2017 tax bill a failure.
Among the options Biden outlined: a minimum 15% corporate tax for the nation’s largest companies and the reuse of some Covid-19 relief funds approved during the Trump administration.
Friday’s conversation between Ms. Capito and Mr. Biden is the latest test of whether the two sides can find common ground. Biden’s proposals were met with skepticism by some GOP aides. Republicans indicated that many of Biden’s suggestions still amounted to tax increases that they would oppose.
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On Friday morning, DeFazio introduced a five-year, $ 547 billion highway reauthorization bill that the House committee will debate next week. The legislation includes $ 343 billion for roads, bridges, and safety improvements, $ 109 billion for transit investments, and $ 95 billion for passenger and freight rail projects.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously advanced a $ 304 billion reauthorization bill, legislation that lawmakers see as a possible component of a broader infrastructure deal.
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